Five great debates for 2011 draft
Many draft picks come down to a debate between two players. A team might have a position in mind and have to choose between two options The scouting staff can be completely split down the middle, forcing the GM to make the final decision. We've decided to take a look at what we think are 10 of the most interesting debates. Here is part one, with five debates.
While Kyrie Irving is generally considered the consensus No. 1 pick and top prospect in the draft, we actually don't think he's considerably better than the second-best point guard, Brandon Knight. That kicks off our first debate.
Kyrie Irving vs. Brandon Knight
This pairing wouldn't fall under the classification of "debatable" by most draft pundits, however, it's certainly worth tapping into.
Irving, 19, boasts the electric qualities only found in rare lead guards. He possesses explosive quickness, breakdown ability and court vision, in tandem with natural basketball intelligence and team leadership traits. Irving measured in at 6-foot-3 1/2 with shoes and 191 pounds (with an alarming 10.2 percent body fat), but decided to skip the athletic testing at the combine. Questions concerning his overall athletic prowess and explosiveness aren't entirely unfounded. With that said, he's a gamer, not a tester. A fundamentally sound defender with solid agility. Whether he has the durability and strength to battle for 82 games is very much an unknown.
Knight is NBA bound, utilizing an entirely different set of skills. His body's mature well beyond his years, with broad shoulders and a cut frame. He has a reputation as a relentless worker and gym rat, improving his jump shot leaps and bounds in a short time span.
Knight doesn't possess true point man characteristics currently, and it's possible he never will, but he won't be a team's headache. He's excellent at creating shot opportunities for himself off the bounce (particularly in the mid-range), but needs to work on distribution and advancing the cause of teammates. Unlike Irving, the combine testing was his ally, producing a maximum vertical of 37 1/2 feet and 3/4 court sprint of 3.07 seconds. He also has a reach advantage on Irving with a 6-foot-7 wingspan to 6-foot-4. Defensively, lateral quickness and length form a strong package.
Kemba Walker vs. Jimmer Fredette
Perhaps the two most explosive scorers in the draft, these two were the leading scorers in the nation and battled it out for National Player of the Year, with Jimmer ultimately winning it, but Kemba probably deserving it.
The speed and quickness of Walker is simply beyond this realm. A master of creating space and changing direction in full flight, he can get anywhere he wants on the court. The mid-range game is already well within his comfort zone, and his range continues to improve. If he has space to operate, good luck containing him off the bounce. He measured in at 6-foot-1, but his wingspan and standing reach still leave much to be desired. Nevertheless, he's fearless, unafraid to mix it up inside and rebounds with determination. Walker isn't a traditional point guard, but what he does is WIN games. He's a true warrior entirely capable of carrying a team on his back, as he proved this spring.
Fredette's a true offensive dynamo that eliminates the element of control from the defense. When on his game (much like Walker), he cannot be contained. He possesses in-the-gym range, and he's not just shooting with hope, but shooting with confidence. He can pull up on a dime and elevate with relative ease. Uses the "threat to fire syndrome" to his advantage, abusing over-pursuant defenders with pump fakes and his savvy ball handling and tremendous strength. He sheds defenders like a fullback and, despite a lack of explosion, finishes through contact at the rim. The turnover number is high and his ability to run a squad is questionable, but scorers of his caliber don't fall too far. He's silenced critics of his overall athletic prowess, impressing at team workouts with his quickness and ability to defend on the ball.
Jan Vesely vs. Kawhi Leonard
Raw international talent vs. raw college talent.
Vesely has limitless potential on both sides of the ball. At 6-foot-11 with a massive wingspan, he runs the court like a gazelle and has tremendous agility. Undoubtedly one of the top athletic specimens in the draft, Vesely has a quick first step, long strides and is explosive off the deck. He makes the game look absolutely effortless at times and is considered extremely tough to the point of being a little dirty. Defensively, he has the versatility to guard multiple positions, but must add bulk to his 230-pound frame. The physical canvas is in place for the 21-year-old, now it's about molding those raw attributes into an NBA player. Vesely isn't working out for any teams on US soil.
Leonard has ridiculous length (7-foot-3 wingspan) and huge hands, but is four inches shorter than Vesely. His repertoire is a mixed bag. He's a rebounding machine, attacking the glass with ferocity, utilizes his reach to rebound out of his general area and is a jumping jack on multiple leaps. He's a very capable ball handler with instant fastbreak potential and solid vision. Does his best work in the mid-range, but he's more freelance in style than working for quality looks. Plays at a rapid pace and needs to smooth out the edges. Lacks touch and feel for scoring around the hoop. Leonard is an energizer bunny with fluid athleticism, likely to find success despite questionable (at best) perimeter skills at this stage of his development.
Kyle Singler vs. Chandler Parsons
Two seasoned and experienced veterans of the college game, both of whom should be able to contribute immediately on a winning squad.
Singler did nothing but win throughout his four years at school. He took his game to another level during Duke's national championship run, proving he's more than just a complementary part. More importantly, he's clutch and the bright lights don't inhibit his performance. At 6-foot-9, 228 pounds, he has supreme size for the small forward position and is capable of eating up minutes at power forward. There picturesque shooting stroke is very much there, but the results have been inconsistent from game to game. With a high release and quick trigger, he's a natural spotting up off screens. Singler lacks the explosive quickness to beat defenders off the dribble, and the explosive elevation to finish around the rim. What he does have is excellent court vision and high-level basketball intelligence.
Similar to his counterpart, Parsons has great height for the SF spot at 6-foot-10 and is highly skilled. He developed a mean streak on the boards as the season progressed, showing he's unafraid to bang with heftier bodies. More than capable of running the point forward, he handles the ball securely and knows how to create openings for teammates. His playmaking skills are underrated. He battled mental issues with his jump shot, but the form is there and he entered college with a reputation as a pure shooter. Parsons can boast a past history of late-game heroics, but too often is satisfied with being passive, allowing others to take the reigns.
Jordan Hamilton vs. Klay Thompson
Don't blink, they might score 20.
Hamilton has the ideal build for an NBA wing at 6-foot-8, 228 pounds. His primary attribute is an explosive shooting ability with a lightning quick release. He puts up points so effortlessly that you think he's been quiet, but look down at the box score and he's got 30. He has realistic range out to 28 feet without adjustment. The definition of an "in your face" shooter, requiring very little space to let fly. Settles for low-percentage attempts too often when he should be punishing defenders with his strength. More aggression and improved shot selection is the winning recipe for him moving forward. Hamilton's creativity on the perimeter is limited. He runs well in a straight line, but lateral quickness, quickness with the ball and leaping ability (32-inch max vertical) are ordinary. Could stand to be in better physical shape.
Thompson fits the mold of a "pure" shooter more than an explosive scorer. He has a defined role at the professional level before setting foot on the court. He possesses the full shooting repertoire, from mid-range to deep range, coming off screens, spotting up and pulling up. He converts a high percentage from all areas. His 7-foot-1 wingspan allows him to get his shot off uncontested. Not an elite athlete by any means, but uses his savvy to create open opportunities for himself. Thompson rarely forces the issue, playing with a level head and inside the team structure. He doesn't attack the rim, as he lacks the foot speed or explosiveness to find success in this capacity. His length and anticipation make him a factor on the defensive side of the ball, playing passing lanes adroitly.